Congolese opposition figure and former government minister assassinated in Kinshasa body riddled with bullets police say
A former government minister in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was found dead on Thursday, according to official reports.
The body of Cherubin Okende, latterly a spokesperson for the country’s political opposition, was discovered riddled with bullets in his car in the capital, Kinshasa, a day after he was reported missing.
DRC Communications Minister Patrick Muyaya said the government had received news of Okende’s “assassination” with “horror.”“While condemning this heinous act, [President Felix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo] instructed all security services to diligently carry out a thorough investigation in order to shed light on this unacceptable act,” he stated.
Okende, 61, served as the government’s transport minister until December last year, when he resigned to join the opposition party Ensemble pour la Republique and became its spokesperson.
According to local media, he was scheduled to appear before the DRC Constitutional Court regarding his declaration of assets at the time of his departure from ministerial duties.
His family told the media that he had gone to court on Wednesday to request a postponement of the meeting but never returned home.
Moise Katumbi, the leader of the Okende’s party, who is set to run for president in December, believes his colleague was kidnapped within the court’s precincts. Katumbi told French radio broadcaster RFI that it was “a political assassination,” claiming that the country had “returned to a regime of terror.”
Political tensions in the DRC are said to be rising ahead of elections on December 20, in which the current president, Felix Tshilombo, who has been in power since 2019, is running for a second five-year term.
Protests have been organized by groups of presidential candidates, demanding a new independent and transparent audit of the country’s electoral register.
Salomon Kalonda, Katumbi’s adviser, was arrested and charged with undermining state security in late May following a violent opposition march.
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